Since 1992, April is marked as Stress Awareness Month. The prime objective of the initiative is to increase and develop public awareness for both the cures and causes of this modern-day epidemic. Stress and anxieties can turn out to be the worst enemy for our entire biological system. It can be a vital factor that can lead to several mental as well as physical health.
VibesMojo spoke with Nikita Hazarika, a clinical psychologist and founder of Ashwas Mental Health, Guwahati, to know the several cures and causes of stress.
VM: To what extent and how stress and anxiety can impact our biological system?
NH: Stress is of two types; Eustress and Distress. Eustress is short-term and situation-specific, like tension before performing on stage, while distress is more towards the negative. It occurs for a prolonged period and causes an impact on psychological and physical health. To understand how stress impacts our biological system, we need to understand our central nervous system.
Whenever we confront stressors, the sympathetic and parasympathetic system gets activated. Mostly, physical symptoms are observed: sweating, dizziness, fluctuation of BP level, dried mouth, etc. People are mostly not aware of how does it impact psychologically. So, psychologically it impacts our thoughts and emotions. Our perceptions, our thinking change when we experience stress and anxiety in life.
VM: How can we make aware people on stress management?
NH: I feel people should talk more about stress and should normalise it. In our society, the social stigma on mental health is still prevailing. We need to communicate more about mental health, whether with our family or our social circle. If you’re feeling anxious, you need to speak on it. People are still more conscious of whether they will be judged or mocked if they reveal their mental health. So, talking about your vulnerability is what I feel everybody must embrace.
VM: Should we take medications during this period?
NH: Not every mental illness requires medication also it is based on intensity. Certain mental illnesses can be cured through therapies but for severe anxiety disorders, medications are prescribed by mental health professionals. There is a misconception that people get dependent on medications once they get started but a patient can always consult with a mental health professional for discontinuing medications or on whether the medication is helping or not. Then other alternatives are given.
VM: How exactly can we deal with stress and anxiety during COVID-19?
NH: The only way to deal with stress and anxiety during this time is by accepting the situation. Acceptance can bring in ways of dealing with our lives during this period. We do not know what is ahead of us: the COVID-19 situation might worsen or it might get better. We must accept the situation. We need to deal with everything in the presence of the virus, so we need to understand that the entire world is trapped in this situation.
We need to deal with the situation more compassionately and try to be understandable and empathetic towards others. For one and a half years I’m seeing a lot of patients with anxiety, so if the patient’s family or friends just listen to one’s problem can work wonders.
Secondly, engage yourself with things you like to do: reading, exercising, meditating, talking to people over the phone, etc. But if you are experiencing a severe mental disorder, I would always suggest you consult a mental health professional.